Martha Mullen Responds to Unwanted Bodies

At the same time Marilyn wrote the post on “Unwanted Bodies”, Robynn was writing one of her own: “Martha Mullen responds to Unwanted Bodies”. Such is the connection that develops between two people who want to communicate through words. 


I have a new hero. I first heard about her on the radio several weeks ago. I was driving my car mindlessly, half listening to All Things Considered on National Public Radio when a story piqued my interest.

It was a modern-day parable of grace and convictions; of faith and love. As I listened I started to cry.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan by Jan Wijna...

Martha Mullen was also listening to NPR when she heard the report that the Tsarnaev family couldn’t find a place to bury their son, Tamerlan. Tamerlan Tsarnaev is the alleged bomber who died a month ago in Boston. He and his younger brother are accused of  plotting and  planning for the Boston Marathon bombings. These two brothers planted two pressure cooker bombs 210 yards apart at the finish line of the marathon. Three people were killed. 264 were injured. It was senseless. It was an evil act. But when Martha Mullen heard the story on the radio she thought somebody should do something. She decided she was that somebody. In the NPR interview she said, “It made me think of Jesus’ words: Love your enemies. I felt that, also, (Tamerlan) was being maligned probably because he was Muslim. And Jesus tells us to – in the parable of the Good Samaritan – to love your neighbor as yourself. And your neighbor is not just someone you belong with but someone who is alien to you. That was the biggest motivation, is that, you know, if I’m going to live my faith, then I’m going to do that which is uncomfortable and not necessarily that’s what comfortable”.

As I listened to the interview I was astounded by Martha’s simple faith. She took her faith to heart and she reached across the faith-divide, across the country, to a family who were grieving and who had no place to bury their son.

Like Peter Stefan, she chose to want the unwanted; to claim the unclaimed.

Martha Mullen is an ordinary woman. She’s married. She has a dog. She goes to a Methodist church. There’s not that much written about her. She really isn’t famous. Or she wasn’t. Until now. When she made the choice to get involved. Like the Good Samaritan in the parable, she crossed the street and ministered to a family that was hurting. She did more than think about or wear the ridiculous bracelet that wonders “What would Jesus Do?” –she did what he would do.

I want to be like Martha Mullen. I want to see those who are different from me as my true neighbour. I want to do the right thing. I want my faith to mean something.  True religion reaches out to the bereaved, to the widow, the orphan, the grieving. True faith says I choose to identify with those that Jesus identifies with–the marginalized, the foreigner, the displaced, the lost. The Unwanted.

It’s astonishing to me that there has been an angry backlash against Mullen. But she wasn’t surprised. Neither does she regret her choices. Psalm chapter 16 contains this delightful statement: “The godly in the land are my true heroes! I take pleasure in them”. I take pleasure in Martha Mullen. She is one of my new true heroes. As an Ambassador of Love she did the right thing. When the protesters are now silent and the grumpy are done showing their displeasure at her mercy, I want to say, “Thank you Martha for doing the right thing. Thank you for giving us an example of what it means to actively choose to identify with the Unwanted.” 

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Third Culture Kid - Grew up in Pakistan, lived and worked in Pakistan and Egypt as an adult. Moved to the United States and learning to live away from curry, Urdu, Arabic and the Pyramids.

5 thoughts on “Martha Mullen Responds to Unwanted Bodies

  1. Instead of worrying about burying a mass murderer, that meddling misguided woman should direct her pity toward the survivors and those innocent people who had their legs blown off. I’d like to see how benevolent this woman would be if this terrorist killed one of HER loved ones. Bringing this trash to Virginia has tainted the very soil that surrounds this pile of excrement.


  2. Auntie Polly….It’s the Christian’s response that upsets me the most…I just don’t understand. Thanks for joining in….


  3. This is so, so powerful. I admire Martha Mullen – she is a hero in my eyes. THAT is the kind of radical love that’s going to make a difference in this world. Thank you so much for sharing this story!


  4. Thank you, Robynn. I, too, applaud Martha Mullen for her action.. Where we lived in Mass for 10 years before moving here to NY State, there was a huge objection when local Muslims tried to buy land for an Islamic Burial Place. The nearest Muslim cemetery was 50 miles away in Conn. This in a town that is one of the most liberal in liberal Massachusetts! What do people think that Muslims should do when one of their people dies? And it is sadder still when some Christians express such hate and antagonism. If only those people could know them as the ordinary decent people that most of them are.


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